When I was a kid in the United States, we sometimes at out at Chinese restaurants and there was always a placemat with the Chinese zodiac animals. It was fun to find one’s animals and read one’s traits.
The zodiac animals are a big, big thing in Japan, and starting around now you will frequently see signs of them in Japanese shopping areas. In Japan, though, New Year’s Day is January first, same as in the west. So while other Asian countries and Americans are celebrating Chinese New Year, everything is all done with and put away in Japan.
Do people in Japan believe the zodiac animal traits? I really don’t know, I think it mostly depends on the person. Probably some do, some don’t. Some enjoy it just for fun, some take it seriously. I do think the Chinese zodiac animals are more fun than the western zodiac which evolved from the Greeks. Virgin, Cancer? A little too serious for me! 😉
Today’s book is the folk tale of how the Chinese zodiac animals began, and how they got their order.
It is called “Jyuni Shi no Hajimari”
“How the Twelve Zodiacs (Animals) Began”
You can see the animals at the beginning, listening to Buddha tell them that the first animal to the palace on New Year’s Day will be the first animal in line for the zodiac. Which animal will it be? And why aren’t cats included among the animals? This book tells the tale!
Here is a link which provides background information, and also tells a version of the same story which is in the book.